Merck Company does not need to be introduced: more than three centuries of presence at the global health care market, life science and high-tech materials developing speak for themselves. CEO of Merck Life Science in Russia and the CIS Heinz Schmidt told in an interview to investmoscow.ru about the company's mission in our country and innovation laboratory work in the capital.
– Mr. Schmidt, Merck works in 66 countries of the world. What is the importance of your presence in Russia?
– Merck has recently celebrated its 350th anniversary of its work around the world and its 120th work year anniversary in Russia. Russian market is very important for our company. Moscow office was one of the first foreign offices of Merck in the world.
We regard seriously the scientific exchange between Germany and Russia. One of the brightest examples of our cooperation is recent signing of the Agreement on partnership development with Moscow State University named after Lomonosov. Within the scope of this Agreement, we have implemented several major infrastructure projects in the field of research and development and also in developing educational and training programs. We are pleased to have entered into the Agreement with a leading university of Russia and even more so as our technologies now are available for young scientists. This is the way we realize our company's mission in Russia. Our task is to deliver German quality and innovation to Russia. Research and responsible entrepreneurship are the foundation for Merck's technological and scientific accomplishments. This approach has been implemented by our company since its foundation in 1668. As of today, the family of the Company's founders continues to own the most part of the public company’s shares.
Merck is the leading science and technology company in the field of healthcare, life science and high-tech materials. All these business areas are represented in Russia. Our employees are developing technologies that are designed to improve life quality of millions of people and create favorable conditions for the sustainable development of the society. Our company occupies an important place: we promote genomic editing technologies, discover unique ways to cure the most complex diseases, create high-tech devices.
In recent years Merck in Russia pays great attention to localization issues, since this is a strategically important area for us. On the one hand, the production of a number of drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus and prediabetes from our pharmaceutical portfolio is localized. Localization of drug production for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases is on the way. On the other hand, Merck's life science business actively helps Russian scientists to find effective solutions in the field of biotechnology and molecular biology problems. Finally, the business of high-tech materials offers modern materials and solutions that are successfully used by Russian companies in creating of various packages or coatings, in printing, in the production of plastic materials and cosmetics.
– Merck products are sold throughout Russia. Why is it so important for you to have your laboratory located right in Moscow? And why when localizing production facilities the choice fell on a Special Economic Zone Technopolis Moscow?
– Demolaboratory of our company is located in Moscow because this city is the economic and political center of Russia. Most of the clients of MerckLifeScience are located in the Russian capital. Moscow is convenient for Russian scientists from the logistic point of view. Inside Russia there is a reliable airline service to Moscow. In addition, most of the main scientific and chemical conferences are held in Moscow, many federal officials work here. The office of the Russian headquarters of Merck is also located in Moscow. All of the above convinces us that we made the right choice by placing our laboratory in the heart of Russia.
Implementing our global strategy involves opening up life science labs in the key markets. We commissioned laboratories in North America and Europe, and then in Singapore and India. The opening of a new laboratory in Moscow confirms that Russian market is one of the key ones for Merck. The new Merck Life Science laboratory will be of interest to a wide range of Russian research centers and companies specializing in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies, molecular biology, and is intended for conducting scientific, educational and research programs. Our laboratory will allow Russian biopharmaceuticals and other manufacturers to familiarize themselves with modern integrated technological solutions from Merck for the full cycle of biopharmaceutical processes, food technologies and other related areas.
In general, the Technopolis Moscow and Special Economic Zone provide attractive business preferences, including necessary engineering and transport infrastructure, free customs zone and a special tax regime.
– Please tell us what kind of research work does the laboratory specialize in, how is it equipped?
– The potential of the Merck lab is much broader than those of a regular showroom: a biopharmaceutical product developer may ask here how to use the device under testing to gain an advantage over competitors and actually test it on the applicatory samples brought in with them. Those who doubt whether to buy an expensive device will be able to assess how useful it is in their work. Those who need it but yet unable to afford it, will have the opportunity to buy reagents and conduct research on the spot.
Another area presented in the laboratory is tools, materials and services for drug manufacturers. For example, Merck in Moscow specializes in the technology of medicine preparation and bottling and the technology ensures that the solution at all stages contacts only sterile disposable materials. To achieve this, special patented designs connectors are used, which have no analogue of the competitors. In Merck laboratory, partners of the company will be able to complete a training course, primarily technical. They will be told about the development of production lines design, medicine quality control and implementation of existing GMP standards related to separate stages of drug manufacturing.
And finally, the proposals for all those people whose work requires the performance of some operations in the laboratory environment. These are chemical reagents; materials for chromatography, photometry and microbiological control; laboratory water, devices for testing water, systems for its purification and getting various types of water; everything what is needed to verify product quality.
We always try to offer specific solutions for each customer - both for those who are able to organize a small laboratory with their own equipment, and those who do not have such an opportunity.
– How does the Merck Life Science laboratory intercommunicates with the Russian scientific community?
– Thanks to the innovations presented in the laboratory, the range of training programs and seminars for the specialists from Russian laboratories, universities and companies has expanded. In particular, on the basis of the laboratory, training was organized on the work with photometric equipment and membrane filtration systems used in conducting analytical studies in sample preparation and water analysis at enterprises in various industries, seminars on best practices and GMP standards, practical modules of advanced training programs for pharmaceutical industry experts, etc.
Merck's demo laboratory provides an opportunity to conduct tests, develop new processes, train employees. We welcome here our partners from universities, young specialists in the field of pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies and molecular biology. We want to support scientists creating and implementing new technologies. We are very pleased that in Russia our solutions contribute to the dynamic development of biotechnology.
– Do you plan further scaling-up and development of the Merck Life Science laboratory in the Technopolis Moscow?
– We are looking for various opportunities to make the laboratory even more useful for our clients. This is the standard direction of Merck’s work, because the priority task we face permanently is to bring maximum benefit to our customers.